Texas early voting surpasses total 2016 turnout

Southwest

AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 13: People cast their ballots at a polling location on October 13, 2020 in Austin, Texas. The first day of voting saw voters waiting hours in line to cast their votes. Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier this year that he would expand early voting for the election beginning on Oct. 13. Mail in voting began on Oct. 8 and has been part of a legal battle after Gov. Abbott declared each county may only have 1 mail in ballot drop off center, the ruling was later struck down in federal court but then the decision was upheld when a stay was ruled in the overturning. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — With four days remaining in the U.S. presidential campaign, more than 9 million people have cast ballots in Texas, eclipsing total turnout from 2016, the Texas secretary of state’s office said on Friday.

Early voting has been setting records across the United States, with nationwide turnout approaching 60% of the 2016 total, according to the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. But Texas is just the second state, after Hawaii, to break the full-year record before Tuesday’s Election Day.

This year’s numbers may have been aided by Democratic activists challenging in court for, and winning, the right to extend early voting by one week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas also offers only limited vote-by-mail options when compared to the rest of the country, meaning casting in-person, early ballots is the primary way to vote for people who don’t want to line up and do so on Election Day.

In 2016, President Donald Trump carried Texas against Hillary Clinton by a comfortable 9 points, even though that was the smallest margin since Republican Bob Dole beat Democratic President Bill Clinton by 5 points in 1996.

The Democratic Party hasn’t won a state office in Texas since 1994 — the nation’s longest political losing streak — nor seen one of its presidential nominees carry the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. 

Voters in Texas do not register by party affiliation, so no one can be sure until the ballots are counted whether one party or the other will benefit from the surge in early voter turnout.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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